So, we are all familiar with the Amazon Echo and Google Home “personal assistants” but it would seem the next step from the electronics industry is to place one these devices within your car.
A few months ago we were invited as part of a select group of bloggers to form the alpha test in the UK at the MIRA facility. Well, we were both confused, intrigued and, sworn to secrecy until now about the whole event so, here’s what happened and, what you may well encounter within your vehicle in the future.
After signing in and being ushered into a conference room we were briefed on what we were about to experience, basically taking the voice control functions from many in car systems but, linking it to a 4G or WiFi source if available giving you, the driver the chance to keep up to the minute on what matters to you.
The most surreal part of an already slightly surreal morning was the video presented by none other than Elton John! Why Elton you ask – as did we, well, it appears having retired from music he has lent his voice to the service named – “Reg”.
After Elton’s introduction the first test was a simple one, I was to follow a vehicle at 30 mph, simulate city driving and have a conversation with my passenger, the sort of thing we might do everyday, we then repeated the exercise with “Reg”, well an unistalled hand held version but, functioning as you may expect.
“Reg, what are the headlines in the UK today?” I was promoted to ask, Reg gave me information on Man City being beaten by Liverpool, Brexit, rail strikes and more.
A strange experience but one i’m sure you could get used to. As we proceeded I was prompted to ask more questions, one in-keeping with some in-car systems and the home assistants this is aiming to emulate, “Reg, play The Foo Fighters Please” I asked a black box my passenger was holding, “Certainly”, Elton replied and via the wonder of wired USB connection my mp3 collection was played.
For a couple of hours various commands and subject were attempted with a reasonable amount of success, remember this was pretty much a UK first for this application and yes, some of the news headlines were repeated to me but the software engineers were not expecting flawless results, more seeing how it responded to actual people using it in the real world.
In the future it is hoped that “Reg” can take real time data to inform you of incidents, road works, delay and the like and, while working with your navigation system offer alternative routes almost instantly.
After lunch we had one more chance to experience “Reg” only this time a little different. A fleet of Korando SUVs with working prototypes of “Reg” fully installed appeared and we were offered the chance to drive a vehicle while having a conversation with Elton John, an interesting end to one of the more strange days in my life, we tuned in, turned them on but, when all was said and done…
Those Ssangyong’s they say so much…
Thank you for reading.